November 12th, 2021 was not a great day to be Jake Gyllenhaal. It was, however, a great day to be a Taylor Swift fan, especially in College Park.
Freshly turned leaves fell from the trees in orange, yellow and red, and a subtle haze fell over campus that morning, with raindrops drizzling all around: this was the perfect backdrop for a first listen of the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” from Taylor Swift’s re-recording of “Red (Taylor’s Version).” While most die-hard Swifties can recite a detailed, chronological history of the reasons why Taylor Swift has chosen to re-record her six original albums, her re-releases have not been immune to criticism. While “Red (Taylor’s Version)”does include nine songs “from the vault” that were previously written but never released, many critics don’t understand the hype around Swift re-recording the exact same songs just a few years later.
It was in a March 2021 Instagram post announcing the release of her “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” album where Swift publicly stated how strongly she feels about artists owning the rights to their own music. This statement doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given Swift’s long-standing feud with her previous manager, Scooter Braun.
It's no secret that earnings from the streams of Swift’s original albums go straight into her old record label’s pocket, while profits from her “(Taylor’s Version)”recordings go directly to her. Feud aside, Swift has certainly opened up about artists’ rights in the music industry, which is a conversation that is sure to continue for years to come.
However, what is truly remarkable about Swift’s re-recordings is how much they mean to her fans.
Carleigh Dean, a sophomore at Penn State University, attended a concert during the original “Red” tour in 2013. Dean said that, despite being “in the second-to-last row in the highest section,” she still “loved hearing the songs live.” Dean remembers the show being “such a fun environment” and really enjoying Swift’s performance. When Swift released “Red (Taylor’s Version),” Dean could not wait to listen and described her experience as “nostalgic,” given how long it had been since she heard those songs for the first time.
Sophomore business management major at the University of Maryland Zoe Slavin was equally excited to listen to “Red (Taylor’s Version).” As a long-time Swift fan herself, Slavin describes how the 10 minute version of “All Too Well” was “[shocking] to Swifties, and even Taylor herself, because it became the longest song to ever hit number one on the charts.” Slavin believed that this achievement was monumental because the “people that spent years hating on Taylor Swift finally began to appreciate the genius of her songwriting.”
When asked what listening to “Red (Taylor’s Version)”was like for her, Alison Stecker, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said, “it brought me back to my childhood.”
“I think it's amazing that she’s able to reclaim ownership of all of her music and stick it to the men in the industry,” Stecker said, which is something that had not been done before.
Taylor Swift is certainly re-shaping the course of the music industry by reclaiming her control over her own work. Re-recording previously released music and dropping it again is not something that just any artist could pull off with such success, but Swift’s nostalgic songs and loyal fanbase have allowed her to do so. There aren’t many artists who have been able to shake up the industry quite like her, and Swift fans can’t wait to see what she does next.